For many Americans, one constant in the holiday season is food. We have food at parties, food at the office, and at social events. During this time of the year, food is often so abundant that one of the common complaints that is heard from people is how much weight they have gained. We’ve all heard it.
It is important that we try and remember that many in our country will have limited or no food at this time of the year. And that this time is just like most other times in their lives- one of hunger and need. This is real hunger, not the growling stomach that you may experience between meals. This is the type of hunger where parents worry if they or their children will eat at all that day, or if what they can afford will be enough. It’s the kind of hunger that negatively impacts health.
According to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture state-by-state report on national “food insecurity,” a term that means hunger or susceptibility to it, paints a bleak picture. During the recent recession, many U.S. households suffered job losses, declining incomes, home foreclosures, and diminished net worth. Food security means having dependable access to enough food for active, healthy living-is vulnerable to these financial challenges. In 2009, 14.7 percent of U.S. households (17.4 million) were food insecure, meaning that at some time during the year, they had difficulty providing enough food for all members of their family due to insufficient resources. Although essentially unchanged from 2008 (14.6 percent), food insecurity remains at the highest level observed since food security surveys were initiated in 1995.
According to the national news, food pantries across the country have experienced record high levels of requests for assistance. As a volunteer at a local poverty program that provides food assistance, I have seen the record level requests for assistance first hand. As a result, the food pantry shelves were nearly bare. These feeding agencies can’t do it alone. As you prepare for holiday celebrations, please keep in mind those who are most in need in our communities and donate to a nonprofit agency serving the most vulnerable members of our society. There is so much that needs to be done to help those caught in the vicious cycle of poverty. Together, we can help the poorest women as well as men, and their families, live, learn, earn, survive — and thrive — in the new year and beyond! With an equal amount of conscience, mind, heart, and collective action –we can improve the human condition.
Sources: United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2008 and 2009; Cook, John. Feeding America. Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2006-2008; http://www.share.org; http://www.feedamerica.org; and Food Research and Action Center.
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The “2012 ISHEID: International Symposium on HIV & Emerging Infectious Diseases” will take place on May 23rd through the 25th of 2012 in Marseille, France.
According to Conference Alerts, “ISHEID will focus on finding a cure against HIV, but also: Human Rights, Prevention of HIV Transmission, Access to Care. ISHEID is the opportunity to meet international Key Opinion Leaders in a friendly atmosphere, and share ideas.” For more information, please contact Alain Lafeuillade or visit their website. Information Source: Conference Alerts. Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched the first findings from The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) on December 14th, 2011 and is available online. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) is an ongoing, nationally representative survey that assesses experiences of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence among adult women and men in the United States. It measures lifetime victimization for these types of violence as well as victimization in the 12 months prior to the survey. The survey goes beyond counting acts of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence by assessing the range of violence experienced by victims and the impact of that victimization. The report also includes the first ever simultaneous national and state-level prevalence estimates of these forms of violence for all states.
Source: Prevent Connect. CDC.
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It was recently reported by NBC Washington that today the US House of Representatives and Senate approved a two-month renewal of the payroll tax cut extension for 160 million Americans and unemployment benefits for millions thus ending a long-standing deadlock that threatened the financial health and well-being of millions of Americans.
Complete details are available from NBC Washington: http://www.nbcwashington.com/blogs/us-world/#Congress%20Passes%20Payroll%20Tax%20Cut.
Source: NBC Washington.
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Today, the Democratic Party sent out an action alert concerning the payroll tax cut extension. Minutes ago, the Tea Party Republicans blocked a bipartisan bill to extend President Obama’s payroll tax cut. As a result, middle class Americans could see their taxes increase by $1,000 on January 1st UNLESS Speaker Boehner, Eric Cantor and House Republicans back down from their extreme stance on extending the President’s payroll tax cuts.
“The issue right now is this, the clock is ticking. Time is running out […] I saw today that one of the House Republicans referred to what they’re doing as, quote, high stakes poker. He’s right about the stakes — but this is not poker. This is not a game.” – President Obama’s remarks from the White House this afternoon.
It is up to each of us to ensure that voters in our district are aware of the damage that US House Republicans are wreaking on behalf of the Tea Party fringe and the top 1%. Act now. This Republican Tea Party tax increase will hurt the middle class and obstruct the economic recovery. And they know it. Help the Democratic Party hold them accountable.
Source: Democratic Party.
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As winter festivities continue across the country for many, there are others who are sitting at home right now, waiting to hear if they will have basic needs such as food and shelter next month. The National Association of Working Women remind us that, “…Nearly 8 million workers and their families have been kept afloat by the extension of the federal unemployment insurance program while they search for work in this tough economy. Unemployment is at a historic high of 9.6%, and jobless workers across the country are doing all they can to meet their families’ basic needs. Long-term unemployment is at a level not seen since the Great Depression– over 42% of all unemployed (6.1 million workers) have been without a job for over 6 months, and 30% (4.4 million workers) have been out of work for over a year.” The National Association of Working Women asks that we help give struggling families something to be grateful for by telling Congress to extend long-term unemployment benefits.
“The unemployment benefits these struggling families receive kept at least 3.3 million Americans from falling into poverty in 2009 alone, including 1.5 million children.” Until the national unemployment rate shows measurable signs of improvement and the economy begins generating meaningful numbers of jobs, the program of federal jobless benefits should be continued by Congress. With overwhelming bipartisan support, the Senate recently passed a bill which temporarily extends federal unemployment insurance programs that expire on December 31. But now, the US House Republican leaders are threatening to kill the bill, cutting off this vital support for millions of struggling families across our nation.
With that said, it is time for each of us to tell our Representative in Washington to ensure that ALL Americans can celebrate this season. To accomplish said goal, call 1-888-245-3381 NOW and ask your Representative to extend federal unemployment insurance benefits.
9 to 5 prepared this script to assist us in placing this very necessary call to our members of congress. It reads as follows: “When connected to your Representative’s office, please tell him or her: Your name, where you are from, and that you are a constituent. Please tell _____________ that I’m counting on [him or her] to pass the Senate bill to extend federal unemployment insurance benefits. Thank you.”
The Senate bill extends unemployment insurance for two (2) months. We know in two (2) months we will still be fighting to extend unemployment benefits, but right now is the time to stop stalling this very necessary assistance to needed families and support them during the holiday season. It is now up to the US House of Representatives to pass the bill to ensure that unemployed Americans are not left in the cold this holiday season.
“What is at stake if these benefits are allowed to expire? Over two (2) million women stand to lose this critical lifeline in 2012. More than a quarter of a million of these women are single parents. For many of them, federal unemployment benefits may be the difference between staying afloat and falling into poverty.”
You can make the difference in the lives of countless families in your state by calling Washington and urging your Representative to extend unemployment benefits. Again, please call 1-888-245-3381 today and ask your Representatives in Washington and urge them to act NOW to pass the Senate bill to prevent federal unemployment insurance benefits from being cut off this holiday season.
Source: The National Association of Working Women.
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For twenty (20) years, Troy Davis sat on death row in Georgia for the murder of police officer, Mark Mac Phail. Amnesty provides a summary of the Troy Davis and it reads as follows: Troy Davis, a black man, was convicted primarily based on eye witness testimony of the murder of a Savannah, Georgia, white police officer, Mark MacPhail, and sentenced to death. Davis was on death row from 1991-2011. Since Troy Davis’ conviction, seven of the nine key eye witnesses against him recanted or changed their testimony. The United States Supreme Court ordered a new trial court hearing which took place in June 2010. At the trial, Davis was required to conclusively prove his innocence. The trial judge ruled that Davis did not meet this “extraordinarily high standard” of proof. The judge went on to criticize the credibility of of the eye testimony used to convict Davis. Davis did NOT have the benefit of scientific or physical evidence. But four (4) witnesses testified that they had lied at trial. A new eyewitness testified that his relative, not Davis, shot and killed Officer Mark Mac Phail. The judge did admit that the case against Davis was NOT “ironclad”.
Despite serious doubts about his guilt, Troy Davis’ execution was held late on the evening of September 21, 2011. The United States criminal justice system is based on guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s the foundation of our justice system, built to serve and protect the wrongly accused. But in the case of Troy Davis, it’s a principle that was defied, ignored, and trampled on. The petition seeking clemency in the Troy Davis case was signed by almost one million persons. Despite cries for clemency from persons around the world, the Georgia Board of Paroles denied Troy Davis’ request for clemency in his death row case. The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles, designed specifically to ensure that executions never happen amidst so much doubt, allowed it to happen anyway. Additionally, Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm refused to ask the judge to withdraw Troy’s death warrant. Despite serious doubts about his guilt, Troy Davis’ execution was held on September 21, 2011. Many Davis supporters around the world assert that there was simply too much doubt for his execution.
As Troy Davis wrote in a letter when he was facing execution in 2008 :” … no matter what happens in the days, weeks to come, this Movement to end the death penalty, to seek true justice, to expose a system that fails to protect the innocent must be accelerated. There are so many more Troy Davis’ [across the nation on death row]. This fight to end the death penalty is not won or lost through me but through our strength to move forward and save every innocent person in captivity around the globe. We need to dismantle this unjust system city by city, state by state and country by country.” Amnesty International and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) have been seeking to do just that. Specifically, these organizations have been quite successful in raising awareness about the problems with criminal justice system and the need to end the death penalty. The number of persons supporting their work is growing as demonstrated in the case of Troy Davis. As stated previously, the petition seeking clemency in the Troy Davis case was signed by almost one million persons. NAACP and Amnesty International have experienced steady progress in this important undertaking to end the death penalty. However, the Troy Davis case reminds us that more work needs to be done to end the death penalty.
“Justices on the Georgia State Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court — men and women who know that our justice system is degraded when we allow someone to be executed even when the former warden [Dr. Allen Ault, retired Director of the Georgia Department of Corrections and former Warden of the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison] of the very prison the inmate is in says there is too much doubt to proceed — cleared the way for the execution to be carried out anyway. These failures are the result of a system that gives the power of life and death, God-like powers, to humans who are as prone to error and susceptible to bias as any of us. Human nature won’t change, so the system must. This must never happen again.”
The execution of Troy Davis significantly undermines the credibility of the Georgia system of justice. It moved forward with an execution under a persistent cloud of doubts about guilt. This conduct shows a callous disregard for the very real possibility of putting an innocent person to death, and public faith in Georgia’s commitment to a fair justice system is shattered. Our criminal justice system is flawed as most recently demonstrated in the Troy Davis case. Because of the life or death consequences in states where the death penalty is permissible under the law, the criminal justice system must be flawless or there is a possibility that an innocent person could be executed. When justice is administered by humans, it susceptible to error. Under the afore-referenced circumstances, the death penalty must be eradicated nationwide.
Cerebral Motion Productions is producing a three part series entitled, Corruption: The Politics of Crime. The first in this series is TOO MUCH DOUBT: The Story of Troy A. Davis, which looks into the international campaign to stop his execution. It features Martina Davis Correia, Kim Davis, and other members of the Davis family. It also features Big Boi and prominent leaders in the campaign. The screening will take place on the 7th floor roof top. A Question & Answer session on the “Too Much Doubt” Documentary and the Death Penalty will take place starting at 8:15 PM. The screening of TOO MUCH DOUBT will be held on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at Tribute Lofts which is located at 480 John Wesley Dobbs in Atlanta, Georgia.
Source(s): Amnesty. Georgians For Alternatives to the Death Penalty. Campaign to End the Death Penalty. NAACP. Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art.
As the 2012 election is fast approaching, there have been reports across the country of efforts being made to shrink the pool of Americans who will be able to vote in the years ahead. In thirty-eight (38) states and counting, strict new voter ID laws, restrictions on early voting and Sunday voting, and racially motivated bans on ex-felons have either been passed or proposed.
As was aptly stated by President Johnson when discussing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, “The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.” With that knowledge, yesterday, tens of thousands of people rallied at the Stand for Freedom mobilization in New York City to stand up against the forces trying to block the right to vote for millions. The persons in attendance at that event understand that, if we, as citizens, do not take action to stop restrictions on voting, no one will.
Voting is the one right that practically defines a democracy. The right to vote is one of the cornerstones of the United States Constitution. Nonetheless, during periods of history in America, millions of this nation’s citizens were denied this most precious right based on an immutable characteristic such as race. In the century following Reconstruction, African-Americans in the South faced overwhelming obstacles to vote. Despite the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which had enfranchised black men and women, southern voter registration boards used poll taxes, literacy tests, and other bureaucratic impediments to deny African-Americans their legal rights. Southern blacks also risked harassment, intimidation, economic reprisals, and physical violence when they tried to register or vote. Elsewhere, other minorities also suffered this type of discrimination. As a result, African-Americans and other people of color had little if any political power, either locally or nationally. It took the courageous civil rights movement to put an end to this discrimination.
In response voter discrimination, the Voting Rights Act was adopted initially in 1965 and extended in 1970, 1975, 1982, and 2006. The Act made it a federal crime to deny a citizen the right to vote. It outlawed a number of tricks and schemes used for decades to disenfranchise African-Americans. No longer could racists in state governments use literacy tests, poll taxes, and other devices to keep African-Americans from registering to vote. The Voting Rights Act also allowed the federal government to oversee voter registration and elections in places where discrimination occurred. The Act has been described by Irving Bernstein as “a rare and glittering moment in the history of American democracy.”
The Voting Rights Act has often been referred to as the most successful piece of civil rights legislation ever adopted by the United States Congress. The Voting Rights Act codifies and effectuates the 15th Amendment’s permanent guarantee that, throughout the nation, no person shall be denied the right to vote on account of race or color. In addition, the Act contains several special provisions that impose even more stringent requirements in certain jurisdictions throughout the country.
Voting is a cherished right. Countless brave people gave up their lives to secure that right. Federal law guarantees it. Now it’s up to each of us to protect the right to vote and to make our vote count.
Source(s): US Constitution. Wikipedia. US Department of Justice. NAACP. Stand For Freedom
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It has been a year like no other for human rights. Human rights activism has never been more topical or more vital. And through the transforming power of social media, ordinary people have become human rights activists. Saturday, December 10, 2011, marks the sixty-third (63) anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. Some argue that this has been a remarkable year for human rights activism and there is a lot to celebrate – while there is a great deal that still needs to be done. There is no better moment to recommit ourselves to the work of those who came before us. It’s our turn to work to preserve human rights for our children and for all future generations.
This year’s human rights’ theme is “Celebrate Human Rights” to honor the people around the world who found their voices this year using the internet and instant messaging to tell, inspire, and mobilize supporters to seek their basic human rights. To help celebrate International Human Rights’ Day, it is important for each of us to join the global conversation and join the human rights movement.
Join the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and United Nations Association of the United States of America, in celebrating the many accomplishments this year and the work we still have ahead of us.
Source(s): United Nations.
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